Missouri lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would tighten the Missouri attorney general’s procedures for hiring private attorneys.
But the bill does not cap fees for those attorneys, as was suggested in earlier versions of the legislation.
Under the “Transparency in Private Attorney Contracts Act,” which now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon for his signature, the attorney general would have to make written findings to enter into a contingency fee contract with a private attorney.
Among other things, the attorney general would need to show whether his office has “sufficient and appropriate legal and financial resources” to handle the matter, as well as the “novelty, complexity and difficulty” of the work.
The bill specifies that the Attorney General’s Office has to retain “complete control” of the litigation and have veto power over any settlements.
The bill also subjects attorney hiring to a bidding process similar to that for other government contracts. The attorneys who wanted the job would have to submit written proposals, and the attorney general would have to take the lowest and best bid.
Contract attorneys will have to maintain records on the contract for at least four years, which would be available under the state’s Sunshine Law. The attorney general also would have to post information about the contracts on its website and issue an annual report on the contracts.